Fundraiser held for Trek Thru Truth

This article originally ran in the Cleveland Daily Banner on September 26, 2018


The annual fundraising gala for Trek Thru Truth, a proposed Christian children's museum in Cleveland, was held recently at the Element Building on Westmore Church of God's new campus off Candies Lane. 

The evening began with appetizers and music provided by Caleb Donegan (guitar), Rick Donegan (trumpet), Sandy Donegan (oboe), April Itson (flute) and George Olin (clarinet).   

Guests were greeted by one of the museum's character prototypes, a friendly camel, which was available for a unique photo op.  As guests mingled with each other, and some characters from the Bible, they were also able to take pictures with some of  "Pharaoh's  frogs" and in front of a Trek Thru Truth logo banner.  They then stepped into the main dining space to see the Trek Thru Truth scroll backdrop, another example of the Trek Thru Truth elements provided by Theme Fusion and Boston Uncommon.

After each guest was seated at one of the themed tables, Jill Caywood, secretary of Trek Thru Truth, welcomed each table's respective special storyteller to join the guests for dinner. 

Storytellers included Judy Baker (Mother of the Bride – Jesus' first miracle),  Jill Barnett (Eve), Xander Caywood (David), Connie Gatlin (Noah's wife), Ellie James (Queen Esther), Daniel Pace (John the Baptist), Dwight Richardson (Joshua), Joyce Vanderpool (Naomi), Pete Vanderpool (Gideon) and Jim Veenstra (Moses).  

During dinner, guests conversed with the storyteller while also observing Becky Pico as she created an amazing work of art. This beautiful painting was auctioned off at the end of the evening, along with other art pieces by artist Becky Fowler. 

After the dinner, Doug Caywood, president of Trek Thru Truth, introduced the mission, vision and impact of Trek Thru Truth.  Along with being a resource to improve Bible literacy, Trek Thru Truth is projected to have approximately 150,000 visitors per year with an annual economic impact for Cleveland and Bradley County of between $10 million and $20 million.  The design team for Trek Thru Truth is comprised of Lewis Group Architects, Theme Fusion and Jonathan Martin Creative.

Joe McCullough, with Theme Fusion, described many of the exhibits.  He explained the exhibits will not only tell the 52 Bible stories but will engage families by having interactive components, focusing on all five senses.  Each exhibit will dig deeper into the Bible story by exploring the culture, language, professions, art, architecture, transportation, foods and more from that time period.  McCullough also presented one of the exhibit concepts from Jonathan Martin Creative which will include an "escape room" for the story of Paul and Silas.

After the exhibit presentations, Caywood described the variety of giving opportunities for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. Levels of sponsorship ranged from Exhibit Sponsorship ($150,000) to Founding Sponsor ($250 a year for five years, equaling $1,250).  The diversity of levels give churches, businesses, families and individuals the opportunity to give and be a part of this "one-of-a-kind" children's museum.  With the significant annual economic impact, local businesses and industry were encouraged to become involved as sponsors. The museum's leaders say the project has the potential to spearhead additional growth in hospitality, restaurants, retail and more.

For more information on how individuals, churches or businesses can become involved in this "exciting" new ministry, visit www.trekthrutruth.com or contact the TTT Development Office at 63 North Ocoee St., or call 423-665-9229.

In The NewsErik McNair